14-071 Illia Dunes recreation area reopened today; Visitor actions will be monitored

Published Sept. 15, 2014
POMEROY, Wash. – The Walla Walla District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, began reopening the Illia Dunes beach and adjacent shallow waters today after a cleanup event this morning.

The popular area near Lower Granite Lock and Dam had been closed to public use on Sunday, Sept. 7, due to environmental damage, and potential public health and safety concerns after an unexpected crowd of about 1,800 people on Saturday, Sept. 6, left significant amounts of trash and human waste.

The Corps received offers of volunteer cleanup assistance. The Corps’ Natural Resources Management staff coordinated with two organized groups of volunteers -- the Associated Students of Washington State University (ASWSU) and WSU’s Center for Civic Engagement -- using a limited number of people during the clean-up event to maintain safety and efficiently manage work efforts. Corps officials expressed appreciation for all offers of volunteer help.

Following completion of trash cleanup and a safety inspection of the area, Illia Dunes was reopened. The Corps is reviewing the incident and management policies with an eye toward preventing future similar problems. Going forward, Corps staff will monitor visitors’ use of Illia Dunes, and encourage them to enjoy their visit without breaking any laws or offending other visitors. In this way, visitors will be helping determine future recreational usage of the area, which is a designated wildlife habitat management area.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers natural resources staff remind visitors of the following rules that help everyone have a pleasant experience at Illia Dunes:

~ Illia Dunes parking is restricted to two nearby Corps parking lots only. Due to the size, configuration of available space and limited maneuverability for larger vehicles, no busses are allowed to park in these lots. The two parking lots hold a total of about 120 cars. Although not a new requirement, it should be noted that tour and school buses must contact the dam at 509-843-1493 at least 24 hours in advance for crossing authorization.

~ No public parking is allowed on the adjacent 50-mph speed limit Almota Ferry Road. “No Parking” signs have been placed along the roadway. Warm-weather visitors parking on the two-lane, road shoulder have often encroached on traffic lanes, making the roadway narrower and preventing cars and emergency vehicles from safely passing. Shoulder parking also creates pedestrian hazards.

~ The Corps has the option of banning alcohol consumption on Corps lands at any time, and such bans are in place at several locations in the region. While alcohol consumption at Illia Dunes is not banned at this time, underage drinking is not allowed. Remember, state laws prohibit driving or boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Remember that drugs are prohibited on federal lands, even if state law allows it.

~ Conducting special events on Corps property is prohibited without a special-use permit. Permit applications are available at Corps natural resource management offices, and take about 30 days to review and determine if the requested activity will be allowed.

~ The operation or use of any sound-producing equipment in such a manner as to unreasonably annoy other visitors is prohibited.

~ Any act or conduct by any person which interferes with, impedes or disrupts the use of the site or impairs the safety of any person is prohibited. Individuals who are boisterous, rowdy, disorderly or otherwise disturb the peace on Corps lands or waters may be requested to leave.

~ No glass containers are allowed on the Dunes, and the Corps provides free trash bags for visitors to use for “pack it in, pack it out” trash removal. Please, use the trash bags and put filled trash bags into on-site garbage receptacles.

Corps natural resources staff, in cooperation with local law enforcement officials, patrol the Dunes and other Corps recreations to help keep everyone’s outdoor recreation experience safe and enjoyable. More information about Walla Walla District recreation opportunities is available on the District website at www.nww.usace.army.mil/corpsoutdoors.

Public Affairs Office

Release no. 14-071